You’ve probably seen beautiful pictures and lovely videos of glowing, blue “stars” in the ocean. Have you ever wondered what they were? Look no further:
The glow is caused by bioluminescent (light generated by living organisms) producing plants and organisms. The blue “stars” you see in nearshore waters is most likely the result of bioluminescent dinoflagellates and zooplankton.
If you read the comments under these photos or videos, you might see people commenting, “it’s because of phosphorus!” Phosphorus itself, however, does not produce a glow. Instead, high concentrations of nutrients (phosphorus) would increase the population of dinoflagellates.
I’ve never seen a glowing ocean in person before, but I hope to witness such a beautiful scene this summer, and I hope you get to see it too. If you’re considering where to go for summer vacation, make an ocean your destination!